The Dew on the Roses

A relative newcomer to the adult world where consequences really matter, I nevertheless feel justifiably frustrated with the current state of politics.

It’s hardly partisan to describe our president as fearless, even reckless. Although the latter quality carries with it a negative connotation — and, thus, many liberals will reject it outright as a fit description of their leader — it’s a natural consequence of humanity let loose. At times, it’s an apt description of each of us.

Consider our president’s warning to Congress regarding healthcare: “Now or never!” People, that’s a battle cry, something Mel Gibson would scream in Braveheart. It is not a judicious approach to reform. Are we ready — can we even get ready in just a few months — for massive healthcare reform? I haven’t kept up with the news as well as I’ve wanted to these last few months, so I could be way off, but isn’t something else keeping Congress busy? Like, the economy?

Granted, healthcare may need to be reformed, but why now — smack dab in the middle of an economic crisis? Surely healthcare isn’t to blame for our economic woes. And yet, as Obama buys up GM, he’s screaming bloody healthcare.

The guy doesn’t make any sense, but maybe that’s because Congress doesn’t either. If we’re satisfied as a body politic with a bailout bill, thousands of pages long, that not a single member of Congress has read in its entirety, then maybe throwing together a healthcare reform bill isn’t such a difficult thing to do. It just seems as though we’d reforming for the sake of . . . reform.

Still, I can’t get past the third grade threat. The inflamed rhetoric of “Now or never!” is much more befitting a lexicon of last-second sports lingo than politics. It’s what you tell your players with 5 seconds left on the clock down 1 in game 7. It’s what you tell your troops before you attack the Germans at Normandy. It’s not what you say when healthcare’s nowhere close to flatlining.

Urgency aside, the threat’s downright deceptive. When Obama says “Now or never!”, what he means is “Now or never for my administration!”

At the moment, Obama is popular. After all, it hasn’t been that long since the election, and Obama rode to popularity on the wave of our former president’s unpopularity. SNL still mocks the former administration. As the months pass, however, the jokes lambasting Bush and Cheney will grow more and more stale. After all, the White House has a new tenant.

The wave is crashing, the sea, calming, and Obama’s smart enough to realize that it won’t be too long until the honeymoon with the media is over. By year’s end, the dew will be off the roses. Hence, his urgent appeal for healthcare reform. Seriously: now or (probably) never.

And so I arrive at the inspiration for this article: Sonia Sotomayor. Like healthcare reform, Sotomayor’s nomination is a “Now or never!” issue. A few years from now, she’d be eaten alive. Confirmed? Perhaps, but reputationally obliterated in the process. Today’s a different story. Republicans are on edge. Dare they oppose the first Hispanic nominee to the Court appointed by the first black president? I’m suffocating in diversity. Although the left had the gall to oppose Miguel Estrada, the right probably will not. And that’s unfortunate, but elections have consequences.

In the course of the Senate debates, we federalists may get in a lesson or two about the blasphemy of a judicial philosophy founded on “empathy” (whatever that means), but at this point, I doubt many will care to listen. If they do, they will likely not listen seriously. I suppose they’ll listen in the same way our mothers listened to us when we, as children, begged to stay up late.

We’ll get that condescending smile that says it all: Good try. And there will be nothing we can do about it. We’ll be ushered away, up to our rooms as it were, while the adults stay up late and cast their votes to confirm Sotomayor to the Court.

Tragically, Sotomayor’s confirmation is not a choice of “Now or never!” for federalists. In November of ’08, the choice was made for them. By electing Obama, our country resoundingly chose “Now!”

Sigh.

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